This photo was taken by pilot Chris Haerter from the left seat of a Delta Airbus, two nights ago. Westbound View: Chicago, Moon, Venus, sunset, lake Michigan.
DAY 144, DEER PARK, Tuesday, October 8 — For the record, 288-square feet of living space is less than small for a half-year domicile. The only reason we can cope is Lonnie’s organizational skills. Despite this, every day seems to be marked by our knocking stuff over, off, down, etc. What we call an avalanche. Naturally this word has given birth to various neologisms: freezerlanche; fredgelanche; sinkelanche; hangerlanche; stovetopelanch; dogelanche; truckelanch, and the dreaded commodelanche. Use your imagination. We sure do. It probably helps to think like Limpy Allerdyce…. Photos of mini-cabin follow, then pix from our two-hour agate hunt on Lake Superior late this morning. I am ready a strange yet intriguing novel right now, about CIA case officers, and the pages have been redacted the way secret materials are sometimes handled. Lots of missing information, yet the story somehow clicks, which suggests we don’t need or use all the words we normally do? Have to think about this. Sample pages follow. AN ORDINARY SPY by Joseph Weisberg. Over.
From John Baird, Director of Conservation, Michigan Department of Conservation, in the 1925-1926 Biennial Report. “In 1916, the Public Domain Commission secured a consignment of elk from the Federal Government. These elk, about twenty four all told, were placed in an enclosure in Roscommon County and held there until March 1918. At this time they were found in bad conditions and without increase in number and being convinced immediate action must be taken if the here were to be saved, material was bought, men and teams assembled, suitable crates built, and each individual member of the herd, caught, crated and hauled by team and sleigh to Roscommon, twenty five miles, where they were loaded and shipped to points further North. About one third of them were liberated in Otsego County, a like number in the southeast part of Cheboygan County, and the remainder in Montmorency County; and while it is true careless hunters kill one occasionally, they have increased rapidly and a careful survey in January 1926 showed the three herds numbered at least three hundred fine, healthy animals, and considering our great area of non-agricultural lands growing year by year in both acreage and game cover, we venture the statement that Michigan sportsmen, the younger members at least, will be privileged to hunt and kill one bull elk, under statutory provision, here in Michigan in the not far distant future.”
Baird’s prediction came true, but not far distant future amounted to thirty eight years later.
This from the current DNR website on the history of the animals: “Michigan’s native elk disappeared around 1875. Today’s elk herd dates back to 1918, when seven western animals were released near Wolverine. From that reintroduction, the number of animals grew steadily to about 1,500 elk in the early 1960s. They reached the point where limited hunting was possible in 1964 and 1965.
During the late 1960s, several factors kept the elk herd below its biological potential for population growth, including reduced habitat quality. The herd also was hard hit by poaching. There were about only 200 elk in the winter of 1975.
In the late 1970s, renewed public interest in the elk herd was spurred by oil exploration in the Pigeon River area of the elk range. Reduced poaching losses, habitat improvement and successful management of hydrocarbon development resulted in an increase in elk numbers to 850 by 1984.
As the herd grew, problems also increased with forest and agricultural damage. To bring the herd in better balance with its natural food supplies and with the needs of landowners, elk hunting resumed in 1984. Biologists estimated the January 2006 population to be between 800-900 animals. This goal is a winter herd of 800 to 900 elk.”
The DNR gets badmouthed by a lot of so -called mouth-breather sportsmen in this state, but the good they do is beyond measure for all of us who live in this beautiful and wonderful state. Too often we forget the history of those who have selflessly taken care of an protected the natural resources of our state.
Sometime soon I’ll tell you about Michigan’s State Trappers and state predator control programs and philosophies, back in the day. it is not a pretty story, but there is a lesson. The more science we learn and rely on, he better we can manage animals and wild habitats. Science in some way has no history. As more is learned what is already known get revised or honed and the process never ends. Of course, those with closed minds, convinced they already know all there is to know, will never listen or learn the lessons being so painstakingly experienced and shared.
The taking of Grayling has been prohibited since 1919. Know where the last Michigan Grayling were? As of 1925, only the Otter River in Houghton County still had native grayling. In September of 1925 a crew trapped fish and brought them back south. Eventually 100 specimens were planted in a tributary of the Tittabawassee River on the state game refuge in Gladwin County. A small damn was built and a mesh wire screen. Twenty two fish were also delivered to the Grayling hatchery. The so called “Trout of the Pines,” never made it and are gone from our waters.
Over. Indeed, sadly.
Twenty minutes ago, Lonnie went out to pluck some fresh mateys and jalapenos for the salad, looked up, and saw a pair of beavers swimming very close to our shore. She ducked inside, got the boomer, and got shots of them heading for Bill’s Peninsula,; while she was watching the beavers, an adult bald eagle soared overhead, screaming. Ah, life in the north. It is dead calm now, after two full days of rains and wind. We searched for agates in the rain this afternoon. And bear dogs are still working. Our neighborhood bruin has passed through the yard two consecutive mornings, destination unknown.
This is our 140th day in Deer Park and we ‘re down to a month to go with a one-nighter at Gates Lodge in Grayling on the way south. Been a fine summer, little on the cool and wet side, but comfortable and not many bug-botherances until late summer when we had a new crop of carnivorous skeets, who are still with us and unbelievably ubiquitous.
The first draft of MOUNTAINS OF THE MISBEGOTTEN is done. This is character Lute Bapcat’s second foray into print, and now I’m in the editing, refining, and shaping stage.
Meanwhile reading continues unabated. Being up here is special if only for the time alone and in private to read voraciously and without interruption of media or drop-bys.
Tonight finished Joe R. Lansdale’s THE THICKET, about goings on in East Texas. Just before this I finished another Lansdale novel called BOTOMS . Wonderful writer and story teller with a punch sense of humor and no illusions about the nature of rural, poor life. On the non-fiction side, I just finished William H. Gass, LIFE SENTENCES. Fine essayist, critic and writer. And a damn clear thinker. Here’s an excerpt from a piece called “Slices of Life in a Library.” Gass, who owns about 20,000 books (roughly my holding as well) wrote: “My books are there to comfort me about the world, for only the wicked can be pleased by our present state of things, while the virtuous disagree about the reasons for our plight and threaten to fall to fighting over which of us is responsible for the misery of so many millions, and in that way steadily increasing the number of hypocrites, jackals, and rogues.
Among them, writers of books. No occupation can guarantee virtue the way hard labor makes muscle, and only sainthood requires is as part of its practice. So the writers write, perhaps improving their texts from time to time, but only rarely themselves.
But the books…the books disagree quietly, as the minds of many readers in the library may, without the least disturbance; and in that peace we can observe how beautiful, how clever, how characteristic, how significant, how comically absurd the ideas are, for here in the colorful rows that make bookcases seem to dance, the world exists as the human mind has received and conceived it, but transformed it into a higher realm of being, where virtue is knowledge, as the Greeks claimed, where even knowledge of the worst must be valued as highly as any other, and where events as particular as a love affair, election, or battlefield are superceded by their descriptions….for these volumes are banks of knowledge, and are examples, carefully constructed, of our human kinds of consciousness, of awareness that is otherwise momentary, fragile, and often confused. Among the shelves, where the philosophers tent their troops, here is a war of words — a war of the one supportable kind — a war of thoughtfully chosen positions, perhaps with no problems solved, but no blood spilt; shelves where human triumph and suffering are portrayed by writers who cared at least enough about their lives and this world to take pen to paper. Thucydides knew it when he said, concerning the conflict that occurred on the Peloponnesus, in effect: this war is mine. History happens once. Histories happen repeatedly in reader after reader.”
And finally, Gass tells us, “Every one of these books is a friend who will always say the same thing, but who will always seem to mean something new, or something old, or something borrowed, something blue.”
We are a different person every time we read a book, even when it is the same book.
Ah, books. As usual I’ll post my 2013 reading list on New Year’s Day, and as usual I won’t select the best reads or make any sort of value declaration. I learned long ago that every book we read has value, and sometimes this value can be positive or negative in pointing us at something.
Here’s a photo from sunset night before last. Over.
DAY 136 –Monday, September 30, 2013, DEER PARK — I finished the first draft of MOUNTAINS OF THE MISBEGOTTEN last night around 2300 hours. 96,000 words, a hair shorter (and tighter, I hope) than normal . As I’ve said, this is a long game and not for people who need immediate gratification, or even any. There is self satisfaction in creating an idea and building a story around it, and for most writers that’s far more important than any sort of external blessings. When I call this a long game here’s what I mean. Countless years in research, some of which continues today even after the first draft is done. I am expecting a document that I hope will give me good insight into the Nonesuch mine and town in the 1910s, and the good folks at the Tahquamenon Area District Library ordered the book from Michigan Tech, through interlibrary loan, which is one of our culture’s greatest and most taken-for-granted thing for readers and lifelong learners. So research goes on for a year or two while I am writing other things, and then comes a day when I sit down and start the actual draft of Misbegotten, that day being May 1, 2012, when I wrote the first 1,223 words — some 16 months ago. The manuscript grew slowly from there: 5,598 words by October 23; 7,980 words by October 28; 11,784 words by December 20, 2012, and back down to 10,967 words on January 2. And then the push to 96,100 over the past eight months. This is typical of how every book progresses and while I was working on this I was also finishing the first draft of a story I call BROWN BALL, which I finished last March, at which time I went back to Mountains with a vengeance. And during this time, I roughly mapped out in my mind the tenth Grady Service story, which I will start writing in December, hoping for publication around fall 2015. So there tiz, friends, the glory and drudge of creative writing. To quote a line from the great film, Rudy, writing (or football) is about one thing: Do the Work!. Over.
I’m in the process of closing a book, which is a chore in a lot of ways and in some ways it will be good to be done with this and move onto the next manuscript, a new Grady Service story. All my books are closely related to geography, mostly in Michigan, but in some other states as well. I work from a DeLorme Map book, 7.5-min USGS topographical quadrangles, and county plat books, not to mention a compass. No GPS. Don’t need or want it yet. It’s a lazy person’s way of navigating, and based on the number of lost folks I ‘ve helped the DNR “rescue,” not all that reliable. A nice toy, no more. If we have massive solar flares or disruptions on earth, satellites will soon be off the air, so you need to find your way from A to B on your own two feet (and four wheels for as long as gas holds out). I try to personally visit every site I write about, though often change names to keep others away.
Geography has always interested me, being an AF brat moving around the country and world, an Air Force navigator, an international businessman, and somewhat of a woodsman naturalist. You could say geography has in some ways helped define me.
Am reading Robert D. Kaplan’s THE REVENGE OF GEOGRAPHY right now, subtitled: WHAT THE MAP TELLS US ABOUT COMING CONFLICTS AND THE BATTLE AGAINST FATE. Great reading by a great reporter., who tells us, “Geography is the backdrop to human history itself. In spite of cartographic distortions, it can be as revealing about a government’s long-range intentions as its secret councils. A state’s position on the map is the first thing that defines it, more than its governing philosophy even. A map, explains Halford Mackinder, conveys ‘at one glance a whole series of generalizations.’ Geography, he goes on, bridges the gap between arts and sciences, connecting the study of history and culture with environmental factors, which specialists in the humanities sometimes neglect. While studying the map, any map, can be endlessly absorbing and fascinating in its own right, geography, like realism itself, is hard to accept. For maps are a rebuke to the very notions of equality and the unity of humankind, since they remind us of all the different environments of the earth that make men profoundly unequal and disunited ins o many ways, leading to conflict, on which realism almost exclusively deals.
“Realists, writes Kaplan, value order above freedom: for them the latter becomes important only after the former has been established. In Iraq, order, even of totalitarian dimensions, turned out to be more humane than the lack of order which followed. And because world government will forever remain elusive, since there will never be fundamental agreement on the ways of social betterment, the world is fated to be ruled by different kinds of regimes and in some places by tribal and ethnic orders.”
Thus a map is a spatial representation of humanity’s divisions — the subject of realist writings in the first place. Maps don’t always tell the truth.
Interesting reading on a subject of some importance to all of us, ways to perhaps take a cut on looking at the future. Meanwhile I will work to get Lute Bapcat out of the geography of the Porcupine Mountains, which his skin and mind in tact. Why write about the Porkies? Yale anthropologist James C. Scott believes “hill people are best understood as runaway, fugitive, maroon communities who have over the course of time been fleeing the oppressions of state-making projects in the valley.” True in history, it is almost always the outcasts and na’er-do-wells who push themselves into remote corners and true as well with the Upper Peninsula in general and Ontonagon County specifically. It is a place that acts like a magnet for the misbegotten, which depending on time and place, can be a pretty frightening and ugly thing to confront.
DAY 129 – Monday, September 23, DEER PARK – Saturday we signed books in Marquette at Snowbound books with Dana Schultz and walked away with an armful more to read. She is a wonderful source or recommendations for good writers. Also got to see Jo Vairo, Mike’s sis, and pal Don Matson, who is always filled with local tales and lore. Don’s son is the varsity women’s basketball coach at NMU and according to Don, just landed a great player from Minnesota.
Recruiting to northern schools has got to be a problem. Takes a special kid, sports talent, plus interests that will keep them happy in 250-300 inch snow winters. I don’t envy recruiters for sports, academics or anything else. Also heard author John Smolens is teaching four classes this fall at Northern. How does HE get any writing done? I am so thankful I don’t have other things to pursue that might push writing aside. And I admire those who can do it, despite obstacles. Teaching writing, it would seem to me, would eat huge amounts of time and energy to give the kids what they deserve and need.
Spent the night with brother in law Mike Phillips in Mqte, watched MSU football, had Mike’s special chili and a fine time all around. Learned Mike scored three holes in one this summer, all in a short periode, bringing him to a life-count of five which now makes him An Ace Ace (my term). Wife Claudia has three, so she’s got to bag a couple more to catch up. Good to see Mike back on the golf course after some back problems the past few years.
On the way home we bought fresh bread at Huron Mountain Bakery, picked up a pie plate for Brenda Stinson at the Christmas Antique Mall, grock-shopped at Glen’s in Munising, and drove on to Grand Marais to have coffee with Ellen Airgood at her wonderful West Bay Diner. She had her late lunch of hubby Rick’s fine chili while I had a slab of apple pie. As said many times, I don’t know how Ellen can write AND run such a fine establishment. But she does, and always with a positive, can-do attitude. Impressive and fun.
Ended the day with a beach pick so piehead could run and that was good, even with a surging north wind, but we found agates. Last week or so has been insane collecting.
Dawned on us last night that we’re down to five weeks and that we have to start organizing for our return to BTB. Got a room reserved for Halloween, and on into Portage on Nov 1. It will be a difficult reentry, as always. We have days up here where one vehicle may go by all day long. To go back to constant traffic is a pain. Even Marquette has far too much for comfort.
The manuscript for Mountains of the Misbegotten has hit 83,000 words and I am cruising toward the finish line. This will be Lute Bapcat 2, probably next fall.
And no, Grady Service is not retiring yet. Will start working on his 10thwhen we get back to Portage. Already have most of the story set pretty firmly in my often soft mush.
Getting pumped up for more DNR patrols. This is the best time of year to go with officers, so much going on, and almost everything you run into, unexpected. Wicklund and Painter helped Wildlife trap and move 6 bears last week in Iron River, including a sow and her three cubs who were becoming major town nuisances. Bears are, for some reason, a continuing problem all around the UP this year. What follows are bunches of photos from recent past. Enjoy. Thanks for everyone’s support! Over.
Found this email in my “in-basked” this morning. This Mr. Nikolas Barn wants to help with proofreading my blogs. I’m responding only though the blog, but here’s the deal, Nick. I don’t worry about proofing when I do the blog. It’s all about getting thoughts down fast, sharing some photos with friends, and moving on. Besides, if you really want my business you might want to fill out the form correctly. Above your message you indicate California, California, which is of course nonsense, and later you indicate you live in SF, which is a fine city, and that PS we should have coffee and chat. Tell you what. Haul your cheers-butt to the UP and we’ll get you some real coffee in a real place in the world, not some tinsel town on a hill. A $10 gift card? Talk about chintzy. “Foggy” San Francisco? Usually that fog comes in winter. And obviously his service does not eliminate clichés. Mr. Baron’s message follows.
name = Nikolas Baron
address = 548 Market St. #35410
city = California
state = California
zip = 94104
phone = 2342006432
email = firstname.lastname@example.org
comments = Hi Joseph,
You know better than most that putting your writing “out there” takes a tremendous amount of courage; readers will find and comment on even the simplest mistakes. At Grammarly we know the feeling — and we’ve made it our mission to improve writers’ confidence. Putting our money where our mouth is, we’d be honored to sponsor your next blog post with a $10 Amazon gift card.
In case you haven’t heard of us, Grammarly is an automated online proofreader that finds and explains those pesky grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes that are bound to find their way into your first draft. Think of us as a second pair of digital eyes that can spare you the cost of hiring a proofreader. If you’d like to join our 3 million users and try the premium version of our proofreader for free, let me know and I’ll make it happen!
Please send me the expected publishing date and topic of your next appropriate blog post (ideally something about writing) so I can give you all the details you need in time.
P.S. Let me know if you ever find yourself in foggy San Francisco; I’d love to grab some coffee. :)
Kill the smiley face, dude. Over.